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LAHORE: Pakistan produces around 8 million tons of potato annually and exports around 0.4 to 0.5 million tons which leaves room for value-added products of potato. Pakistan has a quite low number of potato recipes and there is a need for introducing more value-added products for household and other industries.

This was the consensus at a webinar on the topic of “value-added products of potato” arranged by the Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Company (PHDEC) on Tuesday. The purpose of the webinar was the intervention of PHDEC on the value addition of the potato. Target audiences of the webinar were processors, progressive growers, R&D and private companies. Growers were mainly from Okara, Sahiwal, Pakpatan and Depalpur as these districts of country mainly contribute to potato production.

Dr Syed Ijaz-Ul-Hassan, chief scientist from Potato Research Institute Sahiwal, explained the scope of value-addition, quality characters of potato for processing and value-added products of potato. He recommended development of low-cost improved storage chambers for long-term storage of raw materials to continue potato production throughout the year even in its off-season.

He stated that major hindrance in the processing industries is the availability of quality grade processing raw materials. The focus should be made to make provision of a year-round supply of processing friendly potatoes by identifying the hotspots for production of such potatoes and extension of research activities in identifying more suitable varieties. He emphasized to follow food safety standards in order to overcome health-related problems associated with processed products.

Ch Muhammad Maqsood Ahmad Jatt, Vice President Potato Growers Co-operative Society, Okara, emphasized on establishment of agro-processing training institutes, bulk-handling and storage technology at farms levels, establishing of small food processing plants at district level and encourage direct marketing of products by the farmers. He recommended establishment of cottage industry for small farmers, seed propagation for new varieties and suggested that analysis for local varieties should be done in order to check the suitability of the variety for value-addition. He offered support from Potato Growers Co-operative Society in value-addition related projects.

Abdul Raheem, senior horticulturist, explained that starch components and invert sugar level in potato are important aspects for value addition.

Dr Javed Iqbal, representative of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA), stated that the SMEDA is working to finalise the report on “potato value chain” and will be available on SMEDA’s website by the end of July, 2023. He explained that launching ceremony of said report will be held on 24, July 2023 and the SMEDA will officially invite the PHDEC in launching ceremony.

Athar Hussain Khokhar, CEO-PHDEC, stated that the purpose of webinars is to educate the farmers on product development, value addition and export-related issues. He appraised Dr Javed Afzal, the representative of SMEDA for writing the report on “potato value chain” and assured that that PHDEC’s platform is always available for any horticulture related project/proposal.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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